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Stranger Things was initially going to be "a four-season thing" according to Duffer Brothers

Plans change, especially when a show proves to be a hit.

Stranger Things season 3 screenshot
Image credit: Netflix

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Stranger Things season four offered plenty in the way of exposition, giving us a clearer – sometimes too clear – understanding of the Upside Down, but it didn’t do much more than bring the cast back together after they were scattered at the end of season three. After three years of rapid character development and building up the Upside Down into a terrifying, unknowable thing, season four slowed things down a bit. It felt like a long setup for the upcoming fifth season.

If it felt like Stranger Things 4 stretched things out a bit, that’s because it had already gone beyond what the Duffer Brothers initially planned for the series. Back when they were busy promoting the second season, they revealed that the show had been renewed for a third season as well. And they were hopeful they could stretch things to a fourth. “We’re thinking it will be a four-season thing and then out,” Ross Duffer told Vulture at the time.

Extending the story of Stranger Things from four to five seasons hasn’t exactly doomed the show or killed its pacing. It is still one of the most exciting shows on Netflix, even with the increasingly long development times between seasons. Probably the biggest drawback to giving the Duffer Brothers more screentime is it allowed them to explore the origins of the Upside Down during the fourth season, something that killed the mystery for me but let us explore Eleven's origins and powers more than before.

How would things be different if Stranger Things had been limited to a fourth season? The gang would have probably reunited midway through the season, ready to tackle whatever is causing the Upside Down to creep into Hawkins. Eddie probably wouldn’t have gotten nearly as much screen time, which would have made his death less impactful and memorable. We won’t know if the extra episodes will prove a benefit to the show’s pacing until we finally get to see Stranger Things season five, probably in the Fall of 2025.

Netflix's Stranger Things is heading into its grand finale - of the main show that is. While you wait, make sure you've watched all of the franchise (including the spinoffs in books and comics) with our Stranger Things guide, know who the Stranger Things season 5 cast, and what Dustin actor Gaten Matarazzo things would make the show better (more deaths). .